KENTUCKY (FOX19/AP) - Kentucky legislators may soon debate whether to allow service monkeys to assist paralyzed adults with simple household tasks.
Sen. John Schickel says his bill comes at the request of a family in his northern Kentucky district. The family wants to use a service monkey to assist their daughter, who was paralyzed in an automobile accident.
Since 1979, the group Helping Hands: Monkey Helpers has trained capuchin monkeys to help paralyzed adults with simple tasks, such as picking up dropped items or flipping on light switches.
The group's executive director, Megan Talbert, says the monkeys are "safe and wonderful" companions.
The bill's critics include April Truitt, Founder and Executive Director at the Primate Rescue Center in Nicholasville, Ky.
"We've been following the program for quite some time," explains Truitt. "One thing we do know about the program is it's not as successful as they would like us to believe."
Truitt says that the training process typically takes more than ten years. The training process includes total dental extraction, according to Truitt.
"We think that's a really bad idea. It's bad for the monkeys and their continuing welfare. They often live for 35 to 40 years. These monkeys simply shouldn't be subjected to this sort of thing," says Truitt. "We think it's a bad use of anybody's money. We certainly don't think that Kentucky needs this nor does it's handicapped citizens."
The American Disabilities Act currently does not recognize monkeys as a service animals.
The legislation is Senate Bill 80.